October 5, 2023 | FEATURES | By Hannah Smith
At Colorado College, students have expressed their concerns about the high prices at Mathias’s C-store; an Ollipop soda, for instance, costs $4.29, almost double the King Soopers’s price of $2.
However, C-store cost inflation does not even hold a candle to the steep grocery costs Indigenous Inuit communities face in northern Canada; a package of Nestle Pure Lifeplastic water bottles priced at $83.49 and a veggie tray at $70, as reported on Instagram by Canadian Inuit member and content creator Willow Allen.
On Sept. 29, Allen posted an Instagram video highlighting that, while Canada is experiencing higher grocery prices in 2023, Inuit members have seen outrageous prices for decades. Allen showcased a series of images taken of prices at Inuit reservation grocery stores and of Inuit community members holding signs; one reading, “Stop the crazy prices, I have to feed my family!”
“This is forced poverty,” Allen captioned her post.
Some of the grocery prices Allen featured: a Cracker Barrel block of cheese priced at $59.99, a rotisserie chicken at $64.99 andan Angus Prime rib costing $425.13.
Allen is one among other verified social media influencers using their platform to raise awareness of these high-priced commodity foods. Shina Novalinga – a Canadian Inuk (indigenous tribe) throat singer – shared a TikTok video in 2021 that garnered more than 2.2 million views and sparked conversations among her three million followers, according to Insider.
“Did you know how insanely expensive food costs in Indigenous communities?” Novalinga wrote in the caption.
Novalinga posted a series of images from Nunavik and Nunavut reservation grocery stores; Nunavik and Nunavut being two of four Inuit homelands in Canada, according to the global nonprofit organization Facing History and Ourselves.
In Novalinga’s TikTok, strawberries were priced at $14, Kraft Peanut Butter was $11, and Heinz Ketchup was $16. A bag of green grapes appeared to cost $28.
According to a National Library of Medicine article, food insecurity in communities across the Inuit Nunavut has been at a crisis level (close to half of households categorized as food insecure) for nearly a decade.
In the article, a notable factor that has led to Inuit food insecurity is the long-term impacts of colonialism. Inuit communities were forcibly relocated to isolated reservations (less agriculturally productive ones), assimilating into colonial food systems and community-enforced harvest restrictions that restricted their once unrestricted food access.
In Colorado, indigenous food insecurity remains prevalent as well, as the state shares an extensive history of reservation displacement. About one in four Indigenous individuals in the state experience food insecurity. This metric is in sharp contrast to one in nine Americans overall, and one in 12 white/non-Hispanic individuals, as reported in the United States Census Bureau.
“Today, many Native Americans still reside in reservations with limited land to grow their own food or hunt,” said the non-profit Move For Hunger in a 2023 article. “This is due to the historic restrictive laws that prohibit Native Americans from hunting outside of their lands. With a total lack of assets to be able to combat hunger on the reservations, Native Americans continue to face extremely high rates of food insecurity.”